Aw man. How disappointing. I had really enjoyed Yann Martel’s Life of Pi a lot and held certain expectations for Beatrice and Virgil. Perhaps I had enjoyed his previous novel so much that I wasn’t able to fully tag along on this literary ride with the same kind of joy and excitement. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I got the book right. Either I’m dumb or the book failed to convey any brilliance; simple brilliance. The first handful of pages were actually quite engaging. With lots of philosophical implications, there was a point in the book where I was led to ponder the meaning of life, even.
Henry is a famous writer who is in the middle of writing a new book. And as commonly established it is for all other authors, his mail- and in- boxes are constantly bombarded with letters from his fanatic readers and critics. One day, he receives in the mail a fictional play about two non-living animals, Beatrice and Virgil, written by a taxidermist also named Henry. Initially, the writer Henry becomes intrigued with the unfinished play and sets out to meet the play writer in person. The two begin to meet regularly to discuss how the play can evolve, and it is through their writing that Beatrice and Virgil develops as a story. Well, a story within a story. Beatrice, a monkey, and Virgil, a donkey talk about the metaphors of life and living. But the metaphors aren’t that fascinating.
It’s sort of Calvin and Hobbes meets Kung Fu Panda meets Velveteen Rabbit meets Winnie the Pooh. But with absolutely no marrow to suck on. Not even satirical humor. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I instantly became detached to the characters and could not stop reading because I just wanted to get it over with. Much like this review.
dee’s rec: 2/5